Microfluidic devices allow for precise control of the cellular and noncellular microenvironment at physiologically relevant length- and time-scales. These devices have been shown to mimic the complex in vivo microenvironment better than conventional in vitro assays, and allow real-time monitoring of homotypic or heterotypic cellular interactions. Microfluidic culture platforms enable new assay designs for culturing multiple different cell populations and/or tissue specimens under controlled user-defined conditions. Applications include fundamental studies of cell population behaviors, high-throughput drug screening, and tissue engineering. In this review, we summarize recent developments in this field along with studies of heterotypic cell-cell interactions and tissue specimen culture in microfluidic devices from our own laboratory.
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